WTO reaches first global trade deal

WTO reaches first global trade deal
Director-General Azevedo shake hands with Conference Chairman Wirjawan as they declare the closing of the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua.
The long-stalled multilateral global trade talks known as the Doha Development Agenda talks, or Doha Round, gained historic momentum for reinstatement as the 159 member nations of the World Trade Organisation approved the first deal to boost global trade at their latest summit in Bali, Indonesia, over the weekend.

The breakthrough was made after two decades of talks on Saturday, the last day of the ninth ministerial conference, which was held from Dec. 2-7 on the island.

The Bali package, overcoming last-minute objections from Cuba and India, consists of 10 declarations on three issues: trade facilitation, agriculture and development.

The highlight of the first WTO deal was its measures to facilitate trade by simplifying customs procedures, which will be a stepping stone to tearing down trade barriers among countries.

Global trade experts forecast the progress in trade facilitation will boost global trade by $1 trillion over time and create 20 million jobs, mostly in developing countries.

The Bali deal also included commitments from WTO member nations to limit agricultural subsidies and to increase aid to the least developed countries.

Global leaders, including the US' Barack Obama administration, lauded the WTO deal, raising hope that the 12 DDA talks would resume soon.

"We have put the 'world' back into the WTO," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said at the closing ceremony after the adoption of the Bali agreement, adding that the WTO would spend the next year developing a fresh approach for moving forward with the DDA negotiations, which have been in doldrums since they began in 2001.

Korea, the world's eighth-largest nation in trade, hailed the first WTO deal as well, saying the progress in multilateral global trade talks would boost the nation's trade volume.

"Korea expects a cost-saving effect from the progress in simplification and standardization in global customs procedures, which will boost the nation's trade volume,'' the Korea Institute International Economic Policy wrote in a report.

Trade Minister Yoon Sang-jick backed the progress in WTO talks not only for Korea but also for the growth of the global economy.

During the WTO summit at Bali, he urged WTO member nations to cooperate for "early harvest" through his keynote speech.

In a separate statement issued Sunday, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs downplayed the negative impact of the Bali agreement on the nation's less developed agricultural sector, saying Korea has been in WTO talks with the status of a developing country.

(jyseo@heraldcorp.com)

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